It seems to be a part of our American culture to brush off pain and injury. The mentality that is ingrained in us to work through the pain and “shake it off” is part of the competitive spirit that we cherish so much in Pennsylvania and elsewhere around the country. But when injuries occur on the job, whether due to repetitive stress, toxic exposure, or worse, it is not wise to simply buck up and bear it.

Too many deleterious conditions stem from our unwillingness to take action to get help. Compensation that is available through required workers’ compensation insurance protection goes unclaimed. And there’s no reason for that to happen. Even in cases where the nature of the issue may be unclear.

This is brought to mind by a story out of the Pittsburgh area last week. According to the reports about the incident, the man was working at the Union Tank Car plant in Altoona when he got hurt somehow.

Efforts by the Altoona Mirror to get the details proved pretty fruitless. The reporter was able to confirm that someone with a name matching that of the injured worker was taken to a trauma and burn center for a time on Jan. 10. But the hospital said the person was discharged later that same day.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed that the accident involved a tank car. But he said he didn’t know if it happened inside or outside the tank, or the nature of the accident. He cryptically said the incident couldn’t be called an explosion, but he said the man might have been exposed to some sort of hazardous substance.

OSHA is now said to be investigating.

This is the second reported accident related to railroad operations in the Altoona area just this month. None of a series of accidents at several railroad companies have apparently yielded any citations or penalties against the firms.

It doesn’t matter whether the injury suffered in the Union Tank Car accident was minor or not. The bottom line is that when injuries occur on the job, workers’ compensation is meant to be tapped to make sure the worker has the time and resources needed to recover. That’s a right to benefits no worker should give up.

Source: The Altoona Mirror, “Worker injured at Union Tank Car,” William Kibler, Jan. 10, 2013